The Pittsburgh Steelers find that their 2017 season ended a bit prematurely, and are undergoing the exit meeting process a couple weeks sooner than they would have liked. Nevertheless, what must be done must be done, and we are now at the time of the year where we close the book on one season and look ahead to the next.
While we might not know all the details about what goes on between Head Coach Mike Tomlin and his players during these exit meetings, we do know how we would conduct those meetings if they were let up to us. So here are the Depot’s exit meetings for the Steelers’ roster following the 2016 season.
Player: L.J. Fort
Position: Inside Linebacker
Experience: 3 Years
Who would have thought that at the end of the season L.J. Fort would be rotating at inside linebacker? Such was the result of a domino effect of injuries and personnel decisions that left the Steelers vulnerable that the feces hit the fan.
A journeyman all his career, Fort has hung on for the past couple of seasons in Pittsburgh, though he has been bounced off and on the roster a couple of times as well. His ability to contribute on special teams has kept him relevant.
Having once again made the 53-man roster this season, a path made easier by Lawrence Timmons departing in free agency, Fort served on special teams exclusively until Ryan Shazier suffered a season-ending spinal injury late in the season.
With Tyler Matakevich also aggravating a previously-existing shoulder injury in the same game, the door opened for Fort to contribute on defense. He finished out the rest of that game in the fourth quarter, and then rotated in with Sean Spence and even Arthur Moats in Shazier’s spot.
The Steelers were not ready to entrust the mack linebacker role to Fort on his own, which in hindsight one might argue they should have. Instead they signed Spence off the streets, who had more than his fair share of struggles.
Fort was often used in obvious passing situations, as the team believes that he has the athletic ability to be an asset in coverage. He did record five passes defensed in the six games in which he played, which obviously speaks to the point. He saw under 100 snaps on defense in total.
He also recorded 11 tackles, some of which came on special teams, and in the season finale recorded the team’s 54th sack of the year, tying them for the most in team history. Tyson Alualu would break the record later in the game.
I have to admit that Fort is always a player that I have liked, though I don’t know how much he can really contribute. He is solid enough as a depth player, I suppose, but yet they were not comfortable with the idea of him starting.